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CLIF Blog

Apr. 24, 2006
Glycemic. 2006.
Glycemic index (GI) seems to be all the rage again! Will it be the next Atkins? Maybe the next big diet phenom? Doubtful. GI's been around for years and it just keeps coming back.

People who are gung-ho about following the glycemic index eating plan believe that all their foods must fall in the low category. But really, there's a time and a place for low, medium and high glycemic foods—a bit of a confusing concept.

The good news is that when people glom onto GI, they begin eating all sorts of nutritious foods associated with a GI-based eating plan-a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats and less refined grains to name a few. 

But what's confusing is that not all low-GI fare is healthy. High-fat candy bars and donuts for example are low GI & REALLY high in fat whereas carrots have a high GI. Does this mean that donuts and candy bars, which are full of saturated fat and high fructose corn syrup, are better for you than carrots? Hardly!

Glycemic index gets pooh-poohed by many dietitians because it involves so many variables. It's silly to decide against eating pasta because it has a high GI when simply combining and controlling the portion can lower the glycemic effect and lead to lower rise in blood sugar-the desired effect of low GI foods. For example, eating 1cup of whole wheat pasta with a meat or veggie sauce accompanied with a spinach salad and olive oil dressing will reduce the GI of the pasta should you have eaten just 2-cups alone.

My nutritionist self is not ready to chuck the glycemic effect of food just yet. There's something to it and it's a good measure for athletes when choosing the right performance foods before, during and after an endurance event. But for those trying to apply GI to their daily menus, I say back away. There are new terms and tools that take into consideration the effects of eating a variety of foods at one time that includes small carbohydrate portions. Glycemic load and insulin response are the wave of the glycemic future.

Or you can bag glycemic talk altogether and just use common sense as your guide-fruit, whole grains, healthy fat, fiber, vegetables, low fat dairy, lean meats, legumes—variety & portion control are key. By the way, if you're looking for help in the portion control arena, I just bought these great bowls! Love them!


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Posted by:
Tara, the RD
Category:
Food Matters
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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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